Combine automation technologies working with complicated desktop applications

Author: Alfonso Alarcón

This is a reality for automated testing engineers! This is the fact! In some occasions, it is practically impossible to generate functional testing on the user interface (UI) of some desktop applications.

Normally, the reason is that the desktop application is based on a code that is written in languages that are not recognized by spy tools or the recognition tool of the selected automation technology. This is very usual in legacy code that is created far of actual technologies.

The situation is more tragic when tools that are in principle powerful, such as the Coded UI Test tool of Visual Studio or HP UFT (to mention just two examples), fail!! In summary, it is a catastrophic situation for automated testing engineer especially when UI testing is essential and required by QA. What should you do? Fortunately, there are solutions.

The most logical solution is to combine different automation technologies (hybridize). I suggest using as the basis a solution of Visual Studio (a console project is enough) and over it work on other technologies. I mention two:

  • AutoIT: Autoit ( is a freeware software to provide automated testing on windows GUI.  You can work with the method of the class AutoItX3Lib. To do it you must download and install AutoIt from and add the reference of AutoItX3Lib to the solution. Please, also read about
  • White: It is a very interesting solution to extend the functionalities of Visual Studio to provide automation testing. It must be added via nuget:

It is noteworthy that it is not required any payment version of Visual Studio. With Visual Studio Express or Community versions is enough. In this scenario, you can provide a reliable automation without money expenses.

But possible your company desires to expend a lot of money in automation testing in this case I recommend Ranorex ( This is a powerful and complete tool that can provide work on web and GUI, and also in mobiles devices in both android and iOS. My suggestion is to combine Ranorex with Visual Studio (again combine technologies!) for a definite automated testing experience.

Finally, in an ending case Microsoft indicates an extension of the of the Code UI test tool to provide automated solutions where the coded UI tool does not arrive. But this solution is only for heroic automated testing engineers! I provide the next URLs:

In conclusion, there is always a hope to automate an inaccessible UI! And remember that the best solution is always combining different automated testing technologies.